3 Penny Opera: 90% Live
3 Penny Opera: "90% Live"

Song List: Sunshine, Forgotten Days, Give Your Love to Me, Without You, Don’t Let Me Be Alone Tonight, Mr. Raleigh’s Dilemma, Bethlehem, Adam & Eve, The Last Romantic, When You Comin’ Home Tonight

Released: 1997
Best track: "Don’t Let Me Be Alone Tonight"
Track to skip: none
Rating: 91 out of 100

Hmm, am I on this thing? Supposedly I’m somewhere in there. Before I go into "Sunshine" I’ll do the briefing. This album, 3PO’s debut, is named 90% Live since 9 or the 10 songs were recorded live. "Sunshine" is the studio track. The live stuff was recorded 8/14/97 at our third gig. "Sunshine" is the same version from the EJ CD, but with America’s vocals instead of Christine’s and the addition of Manuel’s congas. My beef with "Sunshine" is that I am totally inaudible. Our intention was to hop into the studio on a Saturday and just add America and Manuel’s parts. Bryan then gets the idea that his guitar solo was bad and decided to spend 4 or 5 hours (after vocals and percussion were laid down) to try to come up with a good solo. The rest of us thought his solo was just fine, but he didn’t, and since he was paying for the studio time he got his way. At the end of the day, he still didn’t have his solo right so he just said he’d come back the next day and oversee the mixing and use the original solo.

I’m pretty particular about my bass tone and presence in the mix so I was pretty peeved that I wouldn’t be there for the mixdown (I was heading back to Austin the next day for a Phish concert). I got a promise that my bass would be fine and they’d (Bryan and Amado, the engineer) make sure it sounded good. I had to trust them. By the time I heard the end result of the mix, it was way too late as the album had already gone to be duplicated. The song itself sounds great, but you just can’t hear me on there. I think I’ll always have that chip on my shoulder about that.

The rest of the album is quite good. (I’m trying to forget my steel guitar solo in "When You Comin’ Home Tonight," as it is horrible and I’m still surprised they let me do it!) As usual, all the others really hate it, and are embarrassed by it, but I enjoy listening to it. It still surprises me how good we were for our third gig. The enthusiasm is just overflowing on this whole thing. I totally miss the bridge in "Give Your Love" and it sounds awful. There are rough spots by all of us on this, but all the good stuff we do (like "Without You") is really good. Matt Talbert does a guest spot on "DLMBAT" and he just kicks ass all over the place. "DLMBAT" may be the best overall song on here, but my favorite single moment is America tearing the roof off in the bridge of "Last Romantic." That gets me every time I hear it. If I were just Joe Fan here, hearing this would make me a big fan of 3 Penny Opera.

Reviewed on 4/15/02